Gerald Ray Riley
Gerald Ray Riley passed away in Lawrence, KS on March 29 at the age of 94. Gerald was born on August 28, 1925, in Fort Scott, KS to Claude Russell Riley and Mabel Lura Waters Riley. He grew up in southeast Kansas. In 1942, the family moved to Wichita, and Gerald graduated from Wichita East High School in 1943.
In December, 1943, he entered into service with the United States Navy during World War II. After training in Farragut, ID, Stillwater, OK, and on Treasure Island in San Francisco, CA, he served as a radar technician aboard the USS Medusa in the South Pacific, a fact of which he was most proud. He was honorably discharged in 1946. He returned to Wichita after the war.
He met Donna Lee Harding on a blind date in 1946, arranged by his cousin Glen, in Wichita. They married on June 1, 1949. They spent most of their married life in Wichita where they had two sons, Steven Ray and Timothy Lynn Riley.
Gerald graduated from Wichita University in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. He completed his Master’s degree in Education from the University of Colorado in 1952.
His early career in education included teaching in Minneapolis, KS. They moved back to Wichita in 1952. In the Wichita Public school system, Gerald taught at Horace Mann, Hadley and Mead Junior High Schools. He was the guidance counselor at Mead Junior High School and finished his career as a Research and Testing Coordinator for the Wichita Public School System. He retired in 1985.
Gerald and Donna bought their first home in Wichita in 1952 and lived there for 44 years. They moved into the Georgetown Retirement Village in Wichita in 1996 and lived there until 2018. In 2018, they moved to Monterey Village, a retirement community, in Lawrence, KS. Gerald later moved to Bridge Haven in Lawrence.
Gerald enjoyed fishing, golfing, gardening, and family fishing and camping trips to the strip mining pits in southeast Kansas, the mountain streams throughout Colorado, and Big Stony Lake in central Minnesota. He also enjoyed trips to the Maui Kai resort in Hawaii with Donna. He was an involved husband, father, and grandparent, a loyal friend, and an avid Willie Nelson fan.
He was a man of many talents. He was a licensed amateur radio operator and a private pilot. He was a model for Cessna Aircraft, appearing in several Cessna sales brochures and advertisements. He and Donna also appeared in Hog Wild BBQ restaurant commercials in Wichita, and in brochures for Georgetown Retirement Village.
Gerald was an excellent craftsman. He made homemade knives, fishing poles, fishing lures, a 16 ft fiberglass canoe, and bologna smokers out of cardboard boxes. He also made wooden toys for his grandchildren. In 1967, he assembled a color television from individual components just in time to watch the 1968 US Olympic Track & Field Trials. He repaired many broken radios, TVs, appliances, fishing reels, and lawn mowers that friends would bring to his house.
Gerald was preceded in death by his parents, Russell and Mabel Riley and a sister, Velda Jo Childs. He is survived by his beloved wife of 70 years, 10 months, Donna Lee Riley of Lawrence, KS; sons Steve Riley of Lawrence KS (wife Marcia) and Tim Riley of Norman, OK (wife Ann); five grandchildren Paul, Lisa, David, Justin and Matt; and four great grandchildren Avery, Connor, Miles and Clara.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to his extended families at Monterey Village, Bridge Haven, and A Helping Hand Homecare for their care and support.
No services are planned. A Celebration of Life may occur at a later date. Condolences may be sent to warrenmcelwain.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Gerald’s name to the Wichita Public School Education EDGE Fund, or to the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, KS and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.